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Asia shares off seven-month peak, mood turns cautious

In a document published on the central government’s website late on Sunday, Beijing said it would step up a policy of targeted cuts to banks’ required reserve ratios to encourage financing for small and medium-sized businesses.

Chinese blue chips initially climbed to territory not visited since March last year, only to fade 1 percent as the session wore on. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan went flat having reached its highest since August.

Japan’s Nikkei was off 0.1 percent after reaching its high of the year so far. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 eased 0.2 percent and futures pointed to a soft start for the major European bourses.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 had closed higher for its seventh trading day in a row last week, the longest winning streak since October 2017.

However, a test looms as major U.S. banks kick off what analysts expect to be the first quarter of contracting corporate earnings since 2016.

JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co will get the ball rolling on Friday.

Before that, minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting are due out on Wednesday.

“Markets will be looking at just how dovish the FOMC has become,” wrote analysts at TD Securities in a note. “We put a very low but not zero chance on a rate cut discussion; conversely rate hikes are still on the horizon for the majority of Fed officials.”

“The minutes are likely to show peak dovishness in terms of nervousness about the outlook.”

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